The minority speaks to Channel 9

Here at Ladies who League we are never ones to shy away from controversy. We are here to talk League and if we have an unpopular view we won’t shy away from having our opinion heard.

This is an article which will be unpopular with Channel 9 and those that are affiliated too heavily with it.  You might have guessed it – we’re here to talk about delayed coverage and how frustrated we remain with it.

Last year when the new $1.025 billion dollar NRL TV deal was announced, the big boss at Channel 9, one David Gyngell made no apologies about the current arrangement, which includes the delayed Sunday game.  During his defence of delayed coverage Gyngell used words like “commercial point of view” and “exclusivity” and “commercial sense”.

All nonsense.

In the end, the fans will speak to the current administration and they will speak using their remotes.

In an era where I can wake up early to watch the EPL live on Fox Sports, where I can watch television in High Definition and where I can stream games live on the internet, Channel 9 need to stop holding the game to ransom and give their customers what they want. What customers want is to watch live sport.

It is no longer good enough for Channel 9 to bury their head in the sand. It has to be recognised that the way Australians watch sport has dramatically changed in the last couple of years – largely because of social media. Now, when I watch sport, I watch with my mobile phone in hand – I like to tweet and I like to check Facebook. But most of all, I like to connect with other fans. This is the reality for most sports fans and the way that most of us have come to expect enjoying our sport.

It seems that in negotiating the new deal, the NRL was just concerned with the economic value of the deal without really considering their product and the fans who the product is there to satisfy. In return for the new administration being able to say that they had agreed to a “billion dollar deal” the NRL gave significant control over scheduling to Channel 9 and this has resulted in a Sunday game which is almost impossible to watch and enjoy as an NRL fan.

The commentators, for a start, sound like an old boys club. The Sunday afternoon telecast is beginning to sound more and more like the Thursday Night Footy Show.

Once you get past that, you are forced to sit through delayed coverage, not in HD and with very carefully positioned ads which tell the viewers when a try or points are on the way.  For those of us extremely passionate about our teams it is basically impossible to resist temptation to check the score. Gone are the days where you would spend Sunday afternoon watching the footy on delay. We are no longer in the dark ages yet Channel 9 continues to think it appropriate to hold the game to ransom.

Had the NRL been brave and settled for less money, they undoubtedly would have had more control over their product which in the end would have seen a more favourable broadcast schedule for the most important people of all – the fans.

We aren’t in the dark ages anymore and it is simply not acceptable to make NRL fans wait to watch their teams play. It’s not acceptable to make fans sit through advertisements. Why? Because the fans will start to desert you – firstly for online streaming services and then for other sports. 

This has already started happening. The ratings for 4pm football have been a talking point for several months. It’s not because people don’t want to watch the footy – it’s because fans don’t like to be told how and when to watch.

I’ve heard the arguments about why we need delayed telecasts (especially from one of my favourites, Phil Gould), but in the end, the fans and the customers need to be satisfied.

Channel 9 and the administration can talk and talk and talk about how if you want a billion dollar television deal there need to be sacrifices. How the 4pm telecast is vital because of the advertising revenue it brings in. They can tell me how all the other sports have ads (despite being shown live).

Here’s a thought – while the billion dollar television deal was significant, did taking less money and taking more control over the product which we give to the fans ever come into consideration?

In a game which cannot possible function without the support of fans – how about we start putting them first?

The inspiration for this article was unfortunately one of my favourite commentators – Phil Gould, who following my last article on this topic, thought it appropriate to block Ladies who League on Twitter, rendering the avenues for meaningful debate unavailable. However, we did notice him say today that people who complained about delayed coverage were only part of the minority.

Gus can argue till he is blue in the face about the commercial realities and how much fans need to understand. However in the end, the fans want what they want and that is live sport.

Until Channel 9 decide to treat the NRL fans with the respect they deserve and the NRL have the courage to negotiate a broadcast deal which gives them control over their product we will continue to see the ratings for Sunday afternoon football drop.

So if you’re part of Phil Gould’s minority, let us know. Leave us a comment at the end of this story and let’s show the powers at be ‘small’ big this so called minority is.

Love,

Ladies who League